Bergamot - the name for a small citrus tree and the round, green fruit it bears - has a number of therapeutic uses. The fruit can be used as an antiviral agent and has been said to treat the common flu, chicken pox, herpes and shingles. It’s also an antibiotic agent and may treat bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infections or skin infections such as eczema. Bergamot even has potential as an antidepressant and can ease stress, insomnia and anxiety. The most common way to use bergamot is by adding a few drops to a salve or massage oil and to apply it externally over the affected area.
The fruit from the bergamot tree, and its residual essential oil, is used in a number of products. However, bergamot contains bergapten, which can have dangerous side effects. First, bergapten can cause photosensitivity when it’s used topically. This can lead to skin discoloration when the skin is exposed to the sun. Bergapten also can be toxic if a person ingests too much of it. Although bergamot is often added to food products such as Earl Grey tea, it’s best to let the experts do it rather than add it yourself.
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